By Belinda Marsh Belinda likes to think she’s a writer, but honestly, she just likes to put on her rangry pants and have a good old rant. You can read her shenanigans at rangry.wordpress.com; she is also a regular contributor at thebigsmoke.com.au and theaimn.com.
Writing about happiness is much, much harder than I thought it would be. It’s such a simple feeling, and achieved with a minimum of fuss if we really think about it, yet it’s such an abstract concept that it slips out of our grasp in a momentary flash.
The Mall Happiness
As religion fades faster than last spring’s fashion colours, we consumers go to a new church: The Mall. Faithfully we attend on a Sunday and worship consumerism, sacrificing our money at the altar of desire and perceived need, based on what companies and multi-national corporations tell us will fill the void we feel in our very souls and finally, really, honestly, truly make us happy. On the whole, we seem to enjoy participating, even though we know the happiness is only a fleeting feeling that dissipates quicker than you can say Levi 501s, and before we know it, we’re lusting after the next must-have, this-will-make-me-happy trinket.
The Keeping Up With The Joneses Happiness
This is more expensive than The Mall happiness, because if Brad Jones next door buys a new Commodore, then suddenly we feel like second-class citizens. Naturally he is out there every weekend, washing his new pride and joy, polishing the windows and vacuuming the upholstery, simply so he can shove his earnings ability in your face. You are a loser in comparison, less of a man, because you can’t provide for your family like Brad does.
And visiting Janet Jones is like taking a trip through Harvey Norman hell. You take with you a cake you baked (and burned, but you cut off all the black bits and iced over it so hopefully she won’t know), and she explains that the new lounge they bought cost them an absolute fortune, but isn’t it just a darling thing? Much better than the old lounge suite, which was soooo last year. You’re seething inside because your lounge is nearing ten years old and has been jumped, vomited and crapped all over by the kids and you keep patching it up because you know that if you replace it, the TV remote you dropped down in the cushions somewhere and simply can’t locate will be gone forever. You have only recently worked out exactly where to sit to change the channel.
Zen and the Art of Alternative Happiness
Now it’s time for those who have chosen an alternative route in life to weigh in on the happiness issue. We may feel that becoming more humanitarian, environmentally aware, and conscious of the frills of capitalism can produce genuine happiness. Helping others in need, treading lightly on Mother Earth, and not buying into the consumerism trap (pun intended) is an option those in the alternative lifestyle movement aspire to.
Going ‘off-grid’ is a new housing trend, inspired by the hippies from the 60s, as we install solar panels on the roof, build composting toilets and dig veggie patches. No corporations required, except for the initial purchasing of solar equipment. Oh, and what about eventual disposal of the dangerous batteries used to store the sun’s power?
Maybe instead we can Om our way to happiness through meditation, yoga, Gurus, veganism, drugs and dreadlocks. Don’t forget the clothing we must have in order to be considered a true hippie, made with chemical-laden materials in dangerous Indian sweat shops using child labour. Hmmm.
Happiness may be in the eye of the beholder. We must seek out what makes us truly happy, and sustains (sustains) that happiness for as long as possible. We search high and low for things to make us happy, yet perhaps happiness is not to be found in ‘things’. Maybe it’s a choice, a feeling we can experience and choose to hold onto or let go of. Who knows? Perhaps the happiness is in the search for happiness.